New Year’s Eve is historically one of the absolute busiest times at Walt Disney World. Don’t be scared away by the chaos ... there is plenty of fun to enjoy during New Year's Eve at Disney World. Anything from dance parties at the parks to entire parties packed with food, entertainment and more will have your family blown away with fun celebrations. No matter where you go, you’re sure to have a hoppin’ good time as you count down to 2018.
Here’s a Park-by-Park Rundown of New Year’s Eve at Disney World Activities ... Plus Tips!
Below, we’ve broken down the huge assortment of dining, parties and other activities available to ring in the new year with style at Walt Disney World. Weigh your options based on location and find out which is the best fit for your frog squad to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Disney World.
New Year's Eve at Epcot
Epcot is by far the most exciting place to be on New Year’s Eve at Disney World. With lots of activities, comes lots of crowds. But as one of the largest parks, Epcot is perhaps best suited for crowds. Plus we think the crowds are worth fighting through for these fun-filled festivities. There’s no need to choose ... you can take part in all of these activities for a complete night of celebration.
New Year’s Eve Dinner at the World Show Place Pavilion
Located at Epcot’s exclusive World Show Place Pavilion, an exquisite buffet is being served for New Year’s Eve Dinner. Epcot, exclusive and buffet in the same sentence has me singing, “These are a few of my favorite things …” While buffet-style (score!), we’d still consider this a “fancy” holiday feast. Classic Disney tunes will be playing while you enjoy heaping piles of food and Disney magic. There will also be special vignettes to pose with as to commemorate ringing in the New Year.
There is an entrée for everyone with an exciting array available. Just a couple that we’re drooling over are the seafood mac and cheese with butter-toasted panko and parmesan-crusted chicken breast with lemon caper sauce. Gluten-free frogs, rejoice at the selection of mojo-roasted pork, oven-baked cod and tender demi-braised beef with mushrooms and pearl onions.
For the tadpoles, there are plenty of yummy options such as Minnie corn dogs, meatballs with red sauce and chicken fritters. And we can’t forget our favorite part, dessert! The spread includes key lime raspberry glitter tarts, eclairs, macaroons, ice cream and Nutella-stuffed chocolate Bundt cakes. Sugar- and gluten-free spice cake will be available as well.
Priced at $72.90 per adult and $44.38 per child, we really recommend checking out this unique location that is only open for special occasions. The fact that it is an all-you-can-eat buffet makes this a solid deal for wonderful food and an awesome experience.
Epcot New Year's Eve Parties
Walk from Mexico to Canada, and from 2017 to 2018 with Epcot’s New Year’s Eve parties. DJs will get you into the groove at the American Garden and Future World Fountain stages. Dance the night away as you sip and savor some of your favorite flavors around World Showcase. These parties are a nice way to add some special fun to your holiday evening between your adventures on Test Track, Soarin’ and more.
New Year's Countdown Fireworks
The Countdown Fireworks at Epcot are the most popular way guests celebrate New Year's Eve at Disney World. A countdown to the New Year is projected onto Spaceship Earth as fireworks light up the sky. This unforgettable celebration starts at 11:40 p.m. Dec. 31.
In the past, IllumiNations has also been shown twice on New Year’s Eve: the first showing with the Christmas finale, and the second showing with the New Year’s Eve finale. We love the Christmas version of Illuminations, but the New Year’s display is our favorite!
New Year's Eve at Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom is the most popular park and will be the most crowded during New Year’s Eve at Disney World. If this is your park of choice, we recommend you arrive early and stay all day since it is likely to reach capacity for some part of the day. Be sure to read our post about the parks' closing procedures! Save your viewing spot for parades and stage shows at least an hour in advance. No matter which park you are in during New Year's Eve at Disney World, make sure to use FastPass+!
Fantasy In The Sky Fireworks
2018 is sure to start with a bang — literally — thanks to Magic Kingdom’s Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks. Our whole Frog Squad loves how wild and colorful this fireworks extravaganza is. Seeing the sky above Cinderella Castle glow with this booming presentation is a truly magical way to celebrate a new year to come. As a huge fan of the fairytale magic and sentiment of the Magic Kingdom, this is my personal favorite festivity.
Magic Kingdom will be showing Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks on Dec. 30 as well. On both nights, the show starts at 11:50 p.m. On both Dec. 30 and 31, Holiday Wishes is usually presented too, otherwise only viewable during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This is one of the most beloved fireworks displays at Walt Disney World.
Frontierland New Year's Celebration Dance Party
On both Dec. 30 and 31, Frontierland will be hosting a DJ for a tadpole-friendly dance party beginning at 7 p.m. We have a feeling a few of our friends from the Briar Patch and the Country Bear Jamboree will make an appearance to do-si-do down South with you. This is a memorable, fun way to have a blast with your family and celebrate an awesome year of fun.
New Year's Eve at Disney's Hollywood Studios
To those frogs out there who routinely visit during New Year's Eve at Disney World, be warned that Hollywood Studios has switched up its usual offerings. While it previously presented a special fireworks show with a live band, more standard fireworks displays are scheduled this year. With that being said, Hollywood Studios is a great place to ring in the New Year with more low-key celebrations, and in turn, likely less crowds.
New Year's Eve Dance Party at Center Stage
Starting at 7 p.m. Dec. 30, a DJ will be turning Center Stage into a dance floor in front of the Chinese Theater at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. Dance the night away until 9 p.m., when Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! will light up both the theater and the sky with elf mischief. The DJ fun will continue until the park-wide countdown to 2018, followed by a special presentation of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. Since it’s the first year for this, we aren’t sure whether or not there will be a special finale, but Disney seems to be hinting at such. The DJ will keep the beats coming until 1 a.m.!
New Year's Eve at Disney's Animal Kingdom
If you have little ones who won't be awake when the clock strikes midnight or you just aren't as into crowds and the festivities of New Year's Eve at Disney World, then this is the park for you! Disney's Animal Kingdom doesn't have any special events, and closes early compared to the others parks. It won't be as crowded, so you can catch some Disney park fun and still make your bedtime.
New Year's Eve at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney Countdown to Midnight
For guests 18 and up, Countdown to Midnight is a more formal affair taking place in the Fantasia Ballroom. The fun begins at 8 p.m. with a delightful culinary experience, boasting the best bites and wine pairings from Disney’s finest restaurants such as California Grill, Narcoossee’s and more. An indulging assortment of alcoholic beverages is included in the $250 ticket price for guests 21 and over.
An interactive DJ will have you moving and grooving to music spanning from the 1960’s to today. When you’re not busting a move on the dance floor or indulging in delicious goodies, you can pose in front of a fun assortment of backdrops. Mickey and Minnie are promised to make an appearance as well! The night closes with an amazing view of Magic Kingdom’s “Fantasy in the Sky” Fireworks Spectacular.
Down In New Orleans: A Disney New Year’s Eve Dining Experience
The most grand of Disney’s New Year’s Eve offerings is taking place at the Contemporary Resort’s Grand Republic Ballroom from 7 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. With restaurant-style seating, only an exclusive 200 guests will be allowed and is limited to guests ages 21 and over.
Priced at $450 per guest, this dining experience and party combination is guaranteed to wow. The fun N’Awlins theme sets the stage for gorgeous French Quarter décor and extraordinary flavors. The evening will start with a superb spread of hors d’oeuvres including Kobe beef tartar, sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi and oyster beignets fried on stage, right before your eyes!
You’ll then be guided to your premiere dining destinations with artfully decorated tables and a classic jazz band infusing the atmosphere with authentic sounds and tastes of New Orleans. Your senses will be overwhelmed with the vibrant flavors of herb-crusted Louisiana redfish, Black Angus beef, roast filet of beef with truffled celery root and so much more.
The formal evening will continue with a spirited vocalist joining the band to bring the classic songs of legendary composer Randy Newman to life. The night will be brought to a close with a champagne toast during a private viewing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. This is a can’t-miss event for fine-dining aficionados.
Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve Celebration
To 2018…and beyond! At $175 per guest (all ages welcome) in the Ballroom of the Americas, this party is certainly a family-friendly festivity. For the kids and kids at heart, enjoy a delicious buffet-style dinner with restaurant-style reserved seating while an interactive DJ spins Radio Disney hits from a Cars-inspired DJ rig straight out of Radiator Springs.
There will be photo-ops galore as theatrical backdrops, dramatic set pieces and special props immerse you in the world of your favorite Disney Pixar films. You even get to interact with your favorite toys, monsters, superheroes and adventurers. A vignette-filled room will transport you to Andy’s Room of Toy Story fame, The Incredibles’ Metro City and through a fascinating Up-inspired adventure.
The night starts at 8 p.m. comes to a close as you head to Porte Cochere for a viewing of Magic Kingdom’s Fantasy in the Sky fireworks. We highly recommend this event to celebrate 2018 if you have your tadpoles in tow and want to do something special while avoiding the crowds of the parks. With a 300-guest limit, this is our pick for a fun, tadpole friendly celebration that won’t overwhelm you.
Other Dining During New Year's Eve at Disney World
If none of the above options strike your fancy, enjoy a calmer celebration with special dining presentations and holiday menus at the following restaurants:
- California Grill
- Chef Mickey's
- Garden Grove
- II Mulino
- Monsieur Paul
- Shula's Steak House
- Todd English's bluezoo Lounge
- Victoria & Albert's
- Victoria & Albert's Chef's Table
Tips for Making the Best of New Year's Eve at Disney World
- While the usual cancellation policy requires a 24-hour notice at Walt Disney World restaurants, many of these special occasion meals require cancellation more than 48 hours in advance. Be sure to read the fine print and be sure of your plans.
- If you’re set on a certain experience in particular, call 407-939-3463 as soon as you’re able to purchase your tickets or book your dining reservations. Advance dining reservations are required for all special holiday meals.
- If you’re attending the fireworks at either Epcot or Magic Kingdom, be sure to bring ear plugs for little ones, or maybe even yourself. (Heck, sunglasses might not hurt either.) These shows are beautiful, but can be intense.
- With both Magic Kingdom offerings being presented on both the last two days of the year, we recommend knocking these celebrations out on Dec. 30 for lesser crowds, or to free up your official New Year’s Eve night for other activities. Epcot, anyone?
- Note that at the parks, regular admission is required to access these special events — even if you have a dining reservation.
- Annual Passholder and Tables in Wonderland discounts will not be honored for special holiday meals.
- Disney Dining Plans are accepted at many of the dining locations (NOT parties), but two table-service meals are required per person at most locations.
- Allot plenty of extra time for transportation, as parks are extra, extra busy on this day.
- Most of you know the drill of getting your spots for fireworks early on a typical night, but be sure to post up extra early for the New Year’s spectaculars. Not only will there be more people for the special shows, but there are extremely high-volume crowds to begin with.
- As attraction lines will be tremendously long during this peak season, we find waiting on a prime fireworks spot to be the most effective use of time. Of course, we always recommend having a family member grab snacks and drinks to enjoy during the wait!
- Animal Kingdom is the only park without scheduled New Year’s celebrations. If you don’t care to do anything out of the ordinary and just want to enjoy your Disney vacation, this is a great destination to enjoy lower-volume crowds and a fun night. The park will be open until 9 p.m.
There are so many hoppin’ activities to choose from to leap into 2018 at Walt Disney World. When we’re at Disney World for a holiday, we really like to take advantage and celebrate in a special, unique way. What do you have planned? Tell us in the comments.